Like so many Catholics and Christians, each year I look forward to the Resurrection of Easter and the promise of hope and new life that it brings. This year I am finding great inspiration contemplating Mary at the foot of the cross, watching her child suffering and yet having the faith to face the “sword that pierced her heart” (Luke 2:34–35) with such courage and grace.  

Perhaps I am thinking about Mary because there are so many people who come to Catholic Charities bearing heavy crosses of their own: parents whose hearts have been pierced by the death of a child through suicide or gun violence; mothers and children fleeing abusive relationships; veterans coping with traumatic combat experiences; seniors managing serious health issues and the effects of aging; teens seeking pathways out of gang violence; those experiencing homelessness looking for affordable housing; or those with mental health concerns hoping to find professional counseling and compassionate care.  Each day, thousands of people come to Catholic Charities, laying their burdens at our doors—and we have the honor to help them.  
Even though she had tremendous personal strength, we know that Mary did not suffer alone at the cross. Mary of Clopas, Mary Magdalene, her sister, and maybe others were there with her, sharing her sorrow. The Bible does not give us dialog amongst the group so we assume that her companions simply stood with her in silent solidarity, helping her face one of the most difficult moments of her life.  

In the same way, Catholic Charities strives to be there in a very personal and compassionate way for each person who seeks our help, standing in solidarity with them as they face great life challenges.  I feel very blessed that I’ve witnessed first-hand moments when I could visibly sense relief and comfort in people simply by being at Catholic Charities.  Maybe this sense of peace comes because many of our service locations are long-standing places filled with years of faithful prayer said by religious women and men over the years.  Or, perhaps people—no matter what their personal religious affiliation—sense our own faith tradition that compels us to treat every person with the utmost dignity and respect. To be sure, there is a divine presence at work at Catholic Charities, bringing peace, comfort and a renewed sense of hope.  

There is a saying that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.  Catholic Charities certainly “knows” a lot about professional social work services and teaching skills that we have learned about overcoming challenging circumstances. But more importantly, we let people know we care.  This caring personal connection goes hand-in-hand with our professional services.  Only then can we begin the healing journey, teaching people how to incorporate past trauma into their lives, magnifying their inner resilience, and guiding new opportunities their way.  The journey is never easy, but with great personal courage and steadfast hope from Catholic Charities, thousands of people daily persevere past doubt and fear and do the hard work of creating brighter futures.  

Like so many of our brothers and sisters’ lives, Mary’s life was not easy.  Yet, she had faith in her suffering and in the greater purpose of her Son—and she had support from those around her.  So during this Easter Season, as I contemplate Mary at the foot of the cross, I will be thanking God for the opportunity Catholic Charities has to help people bear their own crosses, shining the light and hope of the Resurrection in even the darkest of places, and transforming lives in profound ways.